oecdExtract from an article published on OECD Education (30 May 2014)
Across the world, governments are asking themselves how can they close the gap between the worlds of education and employment? How can they better engage employers in the work of schools?

While hardly a new phenomenon, the attention of policy makers and commentators has grown significantly over the last decade. It is a policy which has won the recent attention and the strong endorsement from the OECD – in its key 2010 strategic review of vocational education, Learning for Jobs – from European Union agencies (CEDEFOP and InGenious) – and from an influential team at Harvard University (Pathways to Prosperity).

In England, the main political parties no longer argue whether a period of one or two weeks work experience should be a mandatory element of secondary education, but at what age placements should best be undertaken.

Employer engagement has become rapidly established within global priorities for schooling. It is a development which has happened largely in the absence, as set out in a new collection of essays published by Routledge, of significant research. The collection, Understanding Employer Engagement in Education, marks the very first gathering together of serious research essays into the character, delivery and consequences of employer involvement in the learning and progression of young people. It brings together insights from papers first offered at the international conferences and seminars arranged by the London-based education charity, the Education and Employers Taskforce. Over seventeen essays, authors from around the world (if with a strong UK focus), analyse the phenomenon of employer engagement both within vocational education and training, through school or college based apprenticeships, and within mainstream academic schooling seen in such activities as careers talks, enterprise competitions, business mentoring and workplace visits as well as short work placements. Collectively, the contributors consider why governments have become so determined to bring workplace experiences into schooling, how such interventions can best be theorised and understood within labour markets undergoing radical change, what impacts school-mediated workplace exposure can be expected to have on recipients and how access to such experiences are distributed across society.

The collection is likely to gain most attention for three chapters which offer measurements of the impact of employer engagement in education on the educational and employment outcomes of young people. Percy and Mann (Education and Employers Taskforce) apply quantitative analysis to recent UK survey data to show significant links between the extent of teenage employer contacts arranged through schools and later earnings, employment levels and self-declared career confidence. Massey (UKCES) explores the phenomenon from an employer perspective, analysing large scale polling to show how commonplace it is for British employers to take on permanent recruits after short periods of school-managed work placement.

Full article by Anthony Mann (Director of Policy and Research, Education and Employers Taskforce, London, UK) on the OECD Education today